Friday, August 22, 2014

FEARce Five Vol. 9 - Short Horror Films

I have a had a ton of people asking me when I was going to bring the FEARce Five back, well, today is the day! I am so proud to, not only ressurrect my FEARce Five posts, but to start off with a collaboration! The lovely Allison from Prim and Grim agreed to be a part of my double creature feature. Yesterday, I shared my interview with Allison about her shop, and today she will be chatting with me about short horror films. 

In the past five years, the amount of people making short horror films has increased. I think a lot of this has to do with access, inspiration, and instant gratification. These three things, in my opinion, definitely help get the ball rolling on and idea and then help follow through with it. I sound like one of my sociology teachers.

The access part of that has to do with how easily it is for people to shoot, edit, and upload a video, and being able to do this in the comfort of their own homes. Not to mention, everybody knows somebody who is a whiz when it comes to editing, music, or, at the very least, owns every gadget known to man. ***cough*** James and Curtis ***cough*** 

As far as inspiration goes, short films and horror are everywhere! Does anyone else remember the Masters of Horror craze from a few years back? This was an anthology style series that had hour long movies (or episodes) that where horrifying tales directed by big name directors. These big names included John Carpenter, Dario Argento, Lucky McKee, John Landis, plus a few more. There are also clip movies all over the place these days. Movie 43 is the big one I can think of, but as far as horror goes, there are films like The ABC's of Death and V/H/S. 

We are living in the time of YouTube. Any and every joe blow with a smart phone is now YouTube famous over night. Everyone is looking for that viral video to make their career. By the way, if you don't think being YouTube famous is that great or that hard, check out people like Shane Dawson, Jenna Marbles, Tyler Oakley, The Fine Bros, or SMOSH. I could do an entire post on these folks, but that will happen another time, I don't want to lose focus. However, my point in mentioning these people is that they aren't YouTubers that make viral videos. They are just a bunch of individuals that have ideas and take the time to make them into a video and upload them to the internet. When something is good or something is funny it catches on. People share links and before you know it, BAM! 200,000 views and just as many thumbs ups. People are sending you comments about how awesome your video is and are even asking to see more of your work! YouTube and social media are the key factors in this instant gratification. The film Mama started as a short horror film and look at how that blew up! 

Now that I have rambled on about the topic, I think it is time to hear from Allison. I had a few questions for her on the topic...

FEARce FIVE Questions on Short Films

I will start this post with a paragraph or two on short horror films, followed by our questions, an then your top 5 and my top five.

1. How did you first discover the mass amounts of short horror films that are all over the internet? Which one was your gateway film?

I actually didn’t find out about the short horror film genre until a couple of years ago when I volunteered at the Mile High Horror Film Festival. There are lots of interesting jobs involved with running a film festival, one of them being a “Screener,” which is someone who sits in the theater and monitors the sound volume, room temperature, and general audience behavior, and alerts someone if there are any issues that arise. The best part about being a “Screener” is that you get to watch the film too! I was lucky enough to get assigned to a “shorts program.” There were around seven short films in the program, but one in particular has the honor of getting me 100% totally excited about the short horror genre. That film is called “Rotting Hill” from Media Design School's Graduate Diploma of Advanced 3D Productions. It’s a four minute zombie love story. You can watch it for free on YouTube HERE.

2. Do you think that short horror films have paved the way for movies like V/H/S and The ABC's of Death to become as popular as they are or do you think it is the other away around?

Hmm. This is a tough question. I have to admit that I haven’t seen V/H/S, but I’m familiar with ABC’s of Death thanks to director Mike Tack of Apocalyptic Conservatory Studios, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year. Mike let me preview his submission for ABC’s of Death 2, “M is for Makeover.”

ABC’s of Death is a compilation of horror short films, so I think that the two ideas (short horror films paving the way for ABC’s of Death or vice versa) are inseparable in that regard. I think it’s awesome that short horror films are getting mainstream recognition! So much ingenuity is required to make short, memorable films, especially on a limited to no budget. It’s truly an art form. I think short horror films being featured in an anthology of sorts, with a broader audience, is a huge accomplishment for the filmmakers who are featured (who may not have been able to accomplish a fan base as large otherwise).

You can view Mike Tack's gorrific short film (a great example of how to go gore or go home), "One Careful Owner", as well as his ABC's of Death submission, "M is for Makeover," HERE on his YouTube Channel

3. Do you think short horror films are scarier than longer, full length horror films? Why or why not?

I think they can be, if done well… Because they are so short, I think there is some freedom to go gorier than one might with a feature length film. Also with such a short time frame to convey your message, a lot of really common fears become the focus (a car accident, a crazy hitchhiker, a black market organ transplant, etc.). Sometimes these fears are the scariest because they hit so close to home.

I completely agree. Sometimes a story with a great build up makes everything scarier because you are waiting and thinking. Ohh, there is an escaped loon running about. Okay. Ohh, he escaped an hour ago, okay. The hospital in down the street from my house, huh. Ohh, maybe I will call mom real quick. Phone is dead and I have no signal, damn my luck. Was that a knock at the door? Okay, I might be nervous. Didn't I close that window? Kind of freaking out. The power in the whole house goes out! Okay, I am officially freaking out! However, on the flip side, when you take a common fear like the feeling of being watched paired with the time limit of a short film, you don't have time to linger, just panic... especially if the film is done juuuusssst riiiight. 

4. I once heard a popular YouTuber, Shane Dawson, say that people don't like to watch videos that are more than ten minutes long. When a person sees something that is 4 minutes versus twelve, they are more likely to view the shorter video. Why do you think that is and do you think people feel the same way about short horror films?

I think that by nature people have shorter attention spans nowadays (I know that I do, and I blame my smart phone). But people want to know what product they are buying, or what their precious time is going towards. I think this does apply to horror movies.

Now let me switch gears a little… horror gets us riled up. It’s addicting! I’ve found myself at the end of a seventy minute shorts program feeling sad that it’s over and wanting to see more… it’s like a short fix that we just can’t get enough of... plus, if it’s too scary, there’s the reassurance that it will all be over soon.

5. If you were to make a short horror film, what would yours be about?

I actually have a script floating in my head that I ran by a screenwriter friend of mine. He have me a lot to think about; it could really go in a lot of directions… that being said, I don’t want to give anything away but it involves the idea of being buried alive…

Allison's Top Five Short Horror Films

1. “Gillespie” 
written and directed by John Gibson

directed by Dominik Hartl )

3. “Rotting Hill” 
written by Guy Hamling, directed by James Cunningham 

4. “Happy Birthday Mr. Zombie” 
written and directed by David Leclercq 

5. “El Chupugubra” 
written by Aaron B Koontz and Cameron Burns, directed by Aaron B Koontz 

This Ghoul's Top Five Short Horror Films

directed by David F. Sandberg

2. "Game"
directed by Josh MacDonald

3. "Eel Girl"
directed by Paul Campion

presented by Jay Dahl

directed by Drew Daywalt

We hope you enjoyed today's FEARce Five! If you have a short horror film that would would like to share with us, leave the name or the link in the comments below.

CLICK HERE to check out my interview with Allison!

Stay Sweet and Twisted,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Prim and Grim

Today I am going to breathe the life back into my blog with an interview! It has been far too long and I have an amazing artist that my readers need to hear about! Allison is the ghoul and horror is her bag. I came to know Allison and her creative side through the power that is Etsy Teams. We both belong to The Etsy Massacre Team, a group of artists that specialize in horror. I could gush about this gal all day, but I think I will let Allison tell you a bit about herself and her work.

Hi! My name is Allison (nice to meet you). I’m thirty-four years old. I’m happily married and I am a proud mother to a rambunctious and hilarious three-year-old son. I have a full-time career that has nothing to do with art or horror (sadly), and so I opened Prim and Grim for fun. I live near Denver, Colorado with my family and two furry family members named Blag the Ripper and The Black Dahlia, who are both black, cuddly, and awesome. Blag was rescued from a dumpster and Dahlia was born on Halloween. I love horror and Halloween, and I have an Etsy shop called Prim and Grim that sells creepy chic housewares and jewelry.

1. When did you start crafting and how did you get started?

I’ve been artistic going as far back as my memories allow, but if I had to pick a specific time that I really got excited about crafting it would have been in kindergarten. There was one particular activity with crayons and hot plates that I think really sparked my passion for arts and crafts. Using electricity to heat and melt crayons made regular coloring boring, and the way that melted crayons looked on paper was just… So… Awesome! I still get excited about it even though my adult self wouldn’t sit down and melt crayons.

As far as crafting with the purpose of opening an Etsy shop, I think it really began when I discovered steampunk a few years ago. Awhile back, my mom had bought me this jade pendant for my birthday. The jade was so valuable (both emotionally and monetarily), and the cord that it came with was so cheap and boring, that it seemed a disservice to the jade itself to wear it that way. So instead of wear it, it just sat in a drawer for years. When I discovered steampunk, I discovered it in the form of jewelry. It wasn’t as popular as it was now, so finding a wearable jewelry version wasn’t as easy. I decided to try to make myself a Steampunk necklace with the jade pendant as the center. Finally, I had a cool way to wear my birthday present! I wore it to a party one day and someone asked me if I was an artist… I had never considered myself one before. I said, “No, I just make jewelry occasionally,” and the person replied with a firm, “No, you are an artist. You should open a shop.”

2. Which came first, the accessory making or the recycled items you have turned into home decor items?

The accessory making definitely came first. I had spent hours and hours searching for accessories online that fit an idea that I had pictured in my head. I became frustrated and started thinking about it, and decided that there must be other people out there who like the same things that I do… and since I can’t find what I want, I’ll just make it myself!

3. One item that caught my eye right off the bat was the Green Mannequin Lamp. How did this item come to be and what inspired you to turn this head into a lamp?

Awesome! When I was toying around with the idea of opening an Etsy shop this is actually the first item I thought of making! I actually wanted to keep it, but decided that my son would either break it or be afraid of it, so I decided to sell it. When I saw this amazing, green, art deco head I was already playing with the idea of making an industrial lamp (albeit a more “normal” one), and instead I decided that this head would just look so cool all lit up.

4. When making a home decor item with an item like a glass head or an old medical teaching aid, do you usually have an idea first and seek out an item or do you stumble upon an item that inspires you and go from there?

I absolutely get inspired by the item. I will look at something and decide if it strikes me as odd, unique, or creepy, and think first, “I need that.” And then, “what can I do to make this even more interesting?” From there the whole thing develops organically.

5. When I checked out your retro section I was somewhat surprised to see as many war and military themed items. I find many shops tend to focus more on pin up models or a zombified pin up vixen. Do you have any plans on expanding this section of your shop? What other items would you like to add to your retro section?

Yeah, it is kind of an odd thing to find in a shop that mostly sells horror stuff. Kind of a weird mix of things to sell. I had struggled a little bit internally with the idea of selling such different things in one shop… horror, WWII, art deco… perhaps these things could be separated into their own shops, but when you think about it, history can be pretty horrific! When I make the war and military-themed stuff I find it personally haunting.

I’d like to add some authentic vintage items into this section, because nothing is better than authenticity when it comes to history, but I just struggle with the idea of altering historical items from their original form. I recently sold a line of Victorian sea tumbled pottery shards that I turned into pendant necklaces, and that’s about as far as I would let myself go in altering the pottery. My main audience is horror fans, so while I will always have some retro things in the shop, the retro section will not be expanded much more than it already is.

But let it be known (shout it from the rooftop) that I LOVE pinups and zombies… but so many other shops do this so well already… I’ll leave that to them and just dress up as a zombie pinup instead. 

6. Are you working on any new creepy home decor items that you'd like to give us a sneak peek of?

I’m working on a set of his and hers anatomy lamps that are pretty amazing, as well as a new “Specimen Line” that should be coming up before Halloween. It will feature altered doll heads mounted in shadow boxes… I’m excited about everything that I make, and if I didn’t have my three year old to keep me in check I probably wouldn’t ever sell anything and nobody would want to come over to my creepy house!

7. Many of your items, specifically the home decor ones, remind me of shows like oddities. Do you think shows like that have helped spark in interest in work like yours? Why or why not?

I think shows like Oddities and Freakshow have definitely made interest in work like mine more socially acceptable and more accessible. It certainly doesn’t hurt. ;-)

8. Since I can't do an interview without a horror related question, what is your favorite teen scream movie? why?

Does “The Lost Boys” count as a Teen Scream movie?
The Lost Boys exposed me to The Doors (awesome!), made me want a husky, and made me wish that my parents had given me a cooler name like “Star.” The camera perspective of the vampires hunting over the amusement park was AWESOME. That seven deadly sins song is playing in my head right now as I think about it! Iconic.

If you would like to know more about Allison and her work, you can find her all over the place!

CLICK HERE for the FEARce Five post Allison and I put together on Short Films: Horror Edition.